Skip to main content

Full text of "A Relief by Frances Grimes"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



ART AND PROGRESS 



VOLUME VI 



MAY 1915 



NUMBER 7 



■ 




-=* 



A RELIEF 



FRANCES GRIMES 



THE WASHINGTON IRVING HIGH SCHOOL 



A RELIEF BY FRANCES GRIMES 



BY ADELINE ADAMS 



THE Washington Irving High School, 
noted for its progressive ways of 
meeting the complex, changing, crying 
needs of secondary education for girls, has 
had at its head a man in whom imagina- 
tion and common sense are united with a 
large ideal of citizenship. The great 
corridor at that High School's brim was 
something more than a corridor to him. 
He saw it and made others see it in the 
added r6le of a Municipal Gallery, where 
works of art or of craftsmanship could be 
freely shown for the use and behoof of 
citizens, present and future. There was 
a reasonable hope that the battalions 
of young girls daily passing through this 
gallery might enter their classrooms or 
return to their homes, attended by visions 
of beauty bearing directly upon their 
lives. That hope is now being fulfilled, 
or to speak more cautiously, the exhibi- 
tions are being held. 



Not less important than the exhibitions 
are the permanent and structural adorn- 
ments of such a gallery. Exhibitions 
wax and wane, and their effects counter- 
balance and supplement each other; but 
the school gallery itself remains a constant 
influence. Artists and other citizens have 
noted this truth, and now, through the 
generosity of private donors, acting in 
cooperation with the Board of Education 
and the Municipal Art Society, an interest- 
ing scheme of decoration is being executed 
for the Washington Irving School. Mr. 
Barry Faulkner's mural paintings for this 
purpose are at present well advanced, 
and will later speak for themselves in 
their treatment of scenes from New Neth- 
erlands history. The sole sculptural 
feature of the decoration is an overmantel 
in toned plaster. This was entrusted to 
Miss Frances Grimes, a sculptor well 
fitted by genius and training to solve the 



COPYRIGHT 1015 BY THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF ARTS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



215 




MUNICIPAL ART GALLERY. WASHINGTON IRVING HIGH SCHOOL 



COURTESY OF THE EDISON MONTHLY 



l any-sided problem presented to her 
in her theme of the Sleepy Hollow legend, 
to be told in sculpture, as a vital, har- 
monious part of the ornamentation of 
a hall which is at once the foyer of a 
Girls' High School and a Municipal Art 
Gallery, a fireside clime and a forum. 

Miss Grimes has the inborn aptitude for 
the sculptor's way of recording the strength 
and sweetness and mystery of life, visible or 
invisible. Her gift, early noted and en- 
couraged by Herbert Adams, was later de- 
veloped during shining years of hard work 
in the studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 
a master both sympathetic and severely 
critical. That studio was a workshop 
where all sorts of sculpture-problems were 
constantly being carried to solution before 
the eyes of the students, and with the help 
of their hands. Parts and wholes, figures 
and friezes, medals and monuments were 
touched and treated with impartial love. 
It would have been a dull disciple who 
would not soon have learned in this place 
that a chosen moderation in scale does not 
necessarily spell mediocrity in result, and 
that a little medal the size of a child's hand 

216 



may diffuse more art over the earth than a 
whole army of monuments of great tonnage. 
Naturally the vexed question of sculpture 
in its relation to architecture was one that 
here received its various answers. Miss 
Grimes earnestly gave her mind and hands 
to all such matters, little and large. In 
accordance with the desire of Saint-Gaudens 
she was selected after his death to complete 
the important Albright caryatids, which 
were among the latest designs that en- 
grossed him. 

A firm foundation of work in our own 
country gave peculiar value and significance 
to periods of independent study and travel 
later enjoyed by Miss Grimes in France, 
Italy and Greece. In fact, one of the final 
stages in the progress of the relief here con- 
sidered was marked by an interesting so- 
journ at Athens. Though the sculptor 
returned to her clay with that priceless 
acquisition, "a fresh eye," it is to be noted 
that she did not make her Sleepy Hollow 
maidens more Greek than the Greeks them- 
selves by loading them with tokens of 
Early Minoan civilization, Periods I, II or 
III, now much in evidence in our sculpture 



A RELIEF BY FRANCES GRIMES 



217 



exhibitions and further popularized by Mr. 
Granville Barker's Midsummer Night 
fairies. Not that I am insensible to the 
charm of that civilization, or of any other. 
We still have much to learn and enjoy from 
both Cretans and Chinese; and for that 
very reason it would be a pity if our young 
artists should let zeal outrun discretion, and 
should weave and wave Cretan and Chinese 
patterns into unearned discredit before our 
wearied eyes. 

The fireplace panel assigned to Miss 
Grimes is just opposite the main entrance, 
and in its scale suggests the use of life-size 
figures. The shape is not the easiest in the 
world to fill; it is hardly wide enough from 
side to side for a processional treatment, as 
in a frieze, and by the same token it is too 
wide to be the Golden Oblong which poets 
feign is the very happiest frame for an ad- 
venture in art. No matter! Miss Grimes 
has regarded such difficulties as partly 
imaginary and wholly surmountable, and 
has disposed her trio of young figures in a 
group which sufficiently considers the rigors 
of the game, and at the same time diffuses 
that "air of enchantment" the legend 
bespeaks. For me, this relief remains a 
most satisfying example of modern Amer- 
ican sculpture. It delights because of the 
fitness of theme and treatment to the pur- 
pose specified, the architectural strength of 
the design, the dignity, delicacy and sure- 
ness of the modeling, the harmonious 
rhythms of the figures and draperies; in 
short, because of its general state of grace 
as a modern classic. By classic, no one 
necessarily means something old, dug-up, 



resuscitated, distinctly Early Ming or 
Middle Minoan; people knew, long before 
Sainte-Beuve and Pater laid down the law 
for them, that the works of antiquity are 
classic, not because they are old, but be- 
cause they are energetic, fresh, "dispos." 
This work of Miss Grimes is fragrant with 
unobtruded knowledge, and is beautiful 
through what it hides as through what it 
tells. On its monumental side (for even a 
modest relief must in certain circumstances 
have such a side), it is linked with large 
designs previously executed by her, while 
in its more intimate aspect it recalls her 
many successful relief-portraits of dis- 
tinguished personalities. 

New York is a village with a strong pace 
of its own, and in its secondary schools, the 
classroom studies in art must of necessity 
be brief and to the point. Teachers are 
well aware that such studies should be 
something more than a series of short, sharp 
shocks or a sheaf of dissolving views, and 
now, more than ever before, they are trying 
to bring the fugitive, close-stripped art 
lesson of the classroom into friendly rela- 
tions with the abiding, unlimited art lesson 
of the world. The Metropolitan Museum 
offers invaluable help here; in its halls 
school children are invited to be at home 
among masterpieces, to feel at happy ease 
where beauty is. And for the nation's sake, 
it is well that girls in the "largest high school 
in the world," future home-makers or wage- 
earners, can gather around their school 
hearthfire in the good company of serenity 
and beauty such as Miss Grimes has 
achieved in this decoration. 



A NEW KIND OF ART SCHOOL 



BY IRENE WEIR 



I IKE the fabled God Janus, a modern 
_J Art School should face in two direc- 
tions. It must look backward over the 
vista of years gathering up in its glance the 
finest achievements of the artist down 
through the ages — (we use the word advised- 
ly, for art is as old as man). At the same 
time it must look forward, considering 
both the present and the future, if the 



student is to achieve a place of honor in 
the world of affairs. 

The prevailing idea that art is a luxury 
for the few, is false. That it is a necessity 
for every one is an easily proved fact. The 
artist must be alive — alive to his fingertips 
— and with those fingertips he must shape 
the imaginings of his brain, the ideals of 
his age into concrete form.